Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Transformers Cyberverse: Shockwave

In between holding interviews today for work, I ran into a Target that I rarely visit and much to my surprise I found a few of the new Warrior (deluxe) class Transformers Cyberverse toys hanging on the pegs. I don't know what the official release date of this series is, but I really didn't expect to find them already.

To be honest I really haven't paid that much attention to this series to know much about it, only that it's the line for the next forth coming animated television show. I watch Ben's Collectibles video review of the Warrior class Optimus and wasn't impressed. Photos of Starscream weren't that impressive either, but when I was able to hold Shockwave in my hand I thought he looked much better than his wave mates. Even though I told myself I was going to steer clear of this line, here I stand with Shockwave.

The packaging is well laid out, with vibrant artwork of the character right at the top of the blister, along with that character's faction symbol. The right side of the packaging has a bright yellow strip with the Transformers logo using same block letters from the past few years, this time in black instead of red. The packaging does feature 4 different languages so I don't anticipate the packaging changing for the international market.

The thin cardboard insert inside the blister bubble features another small piece of art of the character. In larger letters you have, in this case, Wave Cannon, which is Shockwave's gimmick. Why do toys have to have a gimmick? I know this line isn't aimed at my demographic, but even my almost 9 year old daughter thought the gimmick was silly.

One side of the cardboard insert features artwork of Megatron, Starscream and a new female character, Shadow Striker. If I hadn't already seen some of the other toys, this artwork may have gotten me a little more excited about what's to come, but alas I don't think this is a line I'll be able to get behind.

Not that it's of great importance, but I noticed while taking the figure out of the blister bubble that it wasn't held in place by any of the little plastic bands. It was just wedged into the form fitting bubble. The very simple instructions sheet was folded up at the bottom of the bubble.

Out of the package I have to say my first impression was "not that bad". Before I say anymore, let me go on the record saying the toy features a much darker shade of purple. My camera shows his purple has being a softer color, but it's much closer to previous versions of the character. Not quite G1 purple, but darker than you see here.

Now that is said, I really had low expectations going on based on what I have seen and heard, but Shockwave's robot mode felt pretty solid. Yes, he has some hollow sections on the back of his arms and legs, but that is expected these days. With the cost of oil and thus plastic going up, I'm OK with this cost cutting moves.

Right off the bat you'll probably notice the "backpack" on the right side of his back. This is part of his new alt mode, but thankfully doesn't really get in the way while in robot mode. It can be lifted straight up over his head, but why would you want to do that?

There is no mistake who this character is supposed to be. From the classic sculpted head to the single eye, this is Shockwave. By the way, he does have his little gray "ears", however while editing the photos they kind of disappeared...oops.

Shockwave has some decent heft to him for a modern deluxe size figure. His articulation is limited and I know for some that is an immediate bust. You can rotate his arm at the shoulder a full 360 degrees, lifting his arms up and down on a hinge joint. His forearm is attached via a ball joint and that allows for a good range of motion. His head is not movable and this is due to his transformation. Legs are attached via ball joints, swivel at the thigh and a hinge joint at the knee. No ankle pivot however.

If I'm not mistaken, Shockwave's alt mode was sort of reminds me of his Transformers Animated alt mode, just with a gun placement instead of a crane arm. I'm really not sure how I feel about it at this time. The gun isn't able to be moved or posed as it's in a fixed position. You can move his arms and legs around or I suppose have him move like a crab. 

Transformation from robot to alt mode is very simple. Shockwave is basically a contortionist here. You flip his arms up and forward at the elbow, twisting the forearms around. Flip up his chest piece over his head, twist his legs backwards at the thighs, then bending at the knees. Take the gun/backpack piece and flip it up on it's side and you're done.

I did notice fiddling around with the figure this evening that you can adjust the over height of the gun platform as you please by moving the arms and legs around. No matter how I arranged the limbs however, I can only see Shockwave doing yoga! On the side of the gun is a spring loaded tab. When you pull this back, a pink blast effect folds out as part of his gimmick. This I could have done without, but I'm sure some kid somewhere will find this to add more fun to the play pattern.

If this figure hangs around in my collection, rest assured it'll be in robot mode. I do like however that if you look carefully at the side of his legs, it does resemble the handle of a gun.

Coming off the success of the Robots in Disguise series, I wanted to see how he compared to an RID toy and Starscream just happened to be the closet figure I could grab. While Cyberverse has a different feel and aesthetic, I don't like Shockwave looks too much out of place. I do feel as if Shockwave is "chunkier" than his fellow Decepticon, and this is something that I like.

Overall I'm on the fence about this toy. I didn't like way the robots of Optimus, Bumblebee or Starscream looked, but Shockwave stood out to me. I'm really enjoying his robot mode. I love his classic look, but I also like the subtle changes made to the character as well. I'm not sure why his eye is partially covered...is the sun in his eye? With this price point staying at $14.99 USD it's getting harder and harder to recommend a figure unless it's a grand slam. Shockwave isn't horrible, but I don't care for his alt mode. For this reason I'll say your mileage may vary. He certainly appears to be the best in the debut wave of Warrior class figures...but that isn't saying much.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Transformers Titans Return: Ramhorn

One of the things I have liked about the current Transformers Prime Wars trilogy is that we've been given new versions of older Generation One characters, such as the Autobot Ramhorn. When the Titans Return line was still in it's infancy, we got a new Blaster with transforming "cassettes". I'm sure there were many that were hoping Ramhorn would get a new toy, but I don't think many of us envisioned him returning as Headmaster, er I mean Titanmaster.

Ramhorn proved to be very hard to find for many fans and collectors at local retail for quite a while. I found mine at an Aldi's grocery store of all places. Later on I did see him pop up at local Target and Walmart stores.

Like most Titan Masters, the small figure comes packaged with another smaller Transformer. In this case the "other" toy is a pretty faithful reproduction of the classic G1 character. The sculpt is fantastic and I love how the missile pods have been incorporated into the mold. The horn is large and vicious looking and his maroon color is spot on.

The Titan Master figure itself is pretty standard fare for the line. The paint apps for the most part are reserved for the "Headmaster" mode, though there is a touch of silver on the small Titanmaster head with metallic turquoise used for the eyes. It is rather interesting that the Titanmaster has a rhinoceros head. The larger head mode has a great look, however I'm guessing it's an original design as it doesn't look like any Transformer that I'm familiar with.

I should mention that the Titanmaster does fold up and fit in a compartment underneath Ramhorn.

Ramhorn can also transform in an armored tank mode. I really like this and find that it does add some play value to an already cool Transformer. If you look carefully at Ramhorn's legs you'll see that he has tank treads molded into the back of the legs. The Titanmaster firmly attaches to the top and is ready to blast and roll over some Decepticons.

If Ramhorn's tank mode wasn't enough for you, he's also a Targetmaster! Molded into the figure are small rocket pods. To me this mode looks more like a defensive weapon (a shield) than an offensive weapon, but hey, it's your imagination at work here.

Ramhorn is actually a retool of Shuffler, a Japanese only G1 Headmaster figure. Hasbro did a great job pulling off Ramhorn from this mold and while he may not be a pseudo-cassette like his Autobot brothers Eject and Rewind, he makes a great addition to your modern Transformers collection.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Transformers Power of the Primes: Alpha Trion w/ Landmine

Wave 2 of the Transformers Power of the Primes Prime Masters finally hit local retail in my area and I quickly snatched up the only two new figures in the wave. I was so quick to make the purchase that I overlooked a glaring flaw in the Landmine Pretender armor. More on that in a bit.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Prime Master line thus far for several reasons. 1) The cheap $4.99 USD price point and 2) I actually enjoyed the Pretender toys from the Generation One line. Landmine here is one of my favorite Autobot Pretenders so I was excited to see that he would be getting the Prime Master treatment.

Alright, so let's address the glaring flaw right off the bat. Do you see the problem? The Landmine armor has two right arms. I can't believe I didn't notice this in the store. Again, I was so excited (and surprised) to find anything new at Target that I snatched him up. Usually I'm grabbing all of the same figure and closely scrutinizing them all to find the figure with the best paint apps. Well this time Landmine was all alone on the peg and now I know why!

Two right arms aside, the toy is just as impressive as the previous Prime Master I reviewed, Metalhawk. The level of detail put into the Pretender armor is amazing. While limited, the paint apps are also applied quite nicely. The designers did a great job at capturing the likeness of the original G1 figure, of course with modern updates. I find these little $5 toys a lot of fun and they are some of my favorite modern Transformers.

To remove or place the Prime Master figure inside the armor, you simply fold down the front portion. I kind of wish the armor opened up like the original G1 Pretender armor, but it still gets the job done. The Prime Master figure fits snuggly inside the armor.

The Prime Master figure itself is basically a Titan Master figure from the previous Transformers series, only with the robot head/face replaced with a Cybertronian symbol featuring one of the 12 original Primes. In this case, this is Alpha Trion. 

For added play value, the armor can also transform in a gun for larger Transformers to wield similar to a Targetmaster. As I was typing this post, I realized I failed to photograph the weapon mode. However keep reading as you'll see what it looks like if G1 Landmine were to "wield himself".

Before we get to the G1 comparison pictures, let's take a look at how Landmine stacks up against Metalhawk. Side by side you should be able to see that the same base mold was used for both figures, however there are plenty of different sculpting differences used to help create two unique characters. The arms and legs are basically unchanged, but the torso and chest sections have been modified to resemble their G1 counterparts.

I was amazed when I pulled out my G1 Landmine from his glass display case and put them side by side as the similarities are spot on. From the small designs on the gray utility belt to the red section on the armor's abdomen, you can tell the designs took the time to add in charm from the original toy. This is obviously a nice touch for older fans such as myself and one of the reasons I've enjoyed these new "pretenders" as much as I have.

As aforementioned, you can combine the Prime Master figure with the armor to form a larger fun. The armor features a 5mm peg that most Transformers can wield, even the original G1 Pretenders! While I display mine in their robot form, this is a nice added feature that I'm sure enhances the play value for the younger fans.

I currently own all of the Prime Master figures as I just found wave 3 a few days ago as of the date of this post, however I have a bad tendency of taking my sweet time opening new toys...for some reason. However I eagerly await my next opportunity to open and photograph the next Prime Master. Perhaps the next one will be a Decepticon?

For G1 fans, even if they didn't like the Pretender concept or the toys themselves, this is fantastic to see Hasbro and Takara Tomy digging deeper into the Transformers lore and history and giving new toys to characters seldom used. Even if you aren't a G1 fan or didn't grow up during that time frame, these little toys offer a great deal of detail packed into a small toy and offers different wants to play and interact with other Transformers toys.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Marvel Legends Infinite Series: Captain Marvel

I've been a fan of Marvel's cosmic heroes and stories since the early 90's with Jim Valentino's run of Guardians of the Galaxy. Since then I've enjoyed just about every other cosmic story, thanks to the Annihilation story bringing many of these characters back to the modern spotlight. One of these heroes I've enjoyed following has been Carol Danvers. She has gone by many different names in her super hero career: Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, and Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel first appeared in the pages of Avenging Spider-Man #9 and this Marvel Legends figure from 2016. I wasn't sold on her new look at first, but the more and more I see her in the comics I'm fine with the new appearance. Of course Captain Marvel will be getting her own movie within the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2019 and I can't wait!

At some point Hasbro started using the same packaging for two different characters in the same wave. Captain Marvel shared packaging with the Scarlet Witch and was branded "Maidens of Might". She was part of the Odin Build-A-Figure wave and came packaged with Odin's head, cape and axe. Standard fare packaging, not much to mention here.

Now I'm not the best when it comes to identifying reused parts from previous Marvel Legends, but the basic build of the figure is pretty good...though I feel she has just a bit too much junk in the trunk! The paint that makes up her new costume is spot on to her comic appearances. Her sash is a loose piece, but not really removable. In the accessory department she comes packaged with is a different head, which we'll get to in a bit, and an energy orb that fits around a fist.

I know some fans don't care for Carol's new shorter hair, but it doesn't bother me. The hair itself is sculpted quite nice, however I'm not sure how I feel about her facial expression. There is virtually no emotion in her face what so ever. Bland. 

Well at least if you don't care for her unmasked look, you can pop off the head and swap it out for the mohawk look. At first I hated this look, but now I really dig it. I think it's a great sculpt and looks great. It's how I have her displayed in my collection.

Articulation is standard fare. If you've seen any of my Marvel Legends reviews then you'll know you're better off heading over to Instagram if you want dynamic action poses and shots! Captain Marvel is one of my favorite non-Spider-Man related figures to date. The female proportions are in check and she resembles her comic self well. Good paint and sculpt makes this figure a must have if you're a fan of the character.